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Lochan Cup for UK Women's Keelboat Team Racing Championship

by Jack Fenwick 17 Jun 15:05 BST 15-16 June 2024
UK Women's Keelboat Team Racing Championship for the Lochan Cup © Richard Sawyer / Royal Thames YC

Oxford & Cambridge Sailing Society take the first UK Women's Keelboat Team Racing Championship for the Lochan Cup title

With strong winds forecast for the weekend, four teams from around the country gathered to compete for the first ever UK Women's Keelboat Team Racing Championship in the Royal Thames Yacht Club's fleet of matched Sonars, based at Queen Mary Sailing Club.

Saturday 15th June saw winds ranging from high teens to high twenties (possibly even more but we don't like to ask) but with four high calibre teams competing, almost every race was contested with spinnakers except when necessary to hide from the occasional lightning storm. With racing under way just after 10am with Rutland Raiders (lead by Fiona Tylecote and Alice Lucy) taking on the Wind Warriors, more affectionately know as "the Jennies" (lead by Jenny Smallwood and Jenny Cropley).

A tough fight around the racetrack saw the Wind Warriors take the first win. Straight in to race 2 and the Wind Warriors were up against the Royal Northern & Clyde YC with seasoned skippers Nicole McPherson and Ali Mo at the respective helms. Another tight battle saw the RN&CYC take their first win of the series who then had to take on Oxford & Cambridge Sailing Society. Nip and tuck racing from start to finish, it was OCSS who snuck the win at the very end, taking first and third.

A brutal day of racing continued with all races being fought hard, combined with the extreme breeze and intermittent torrential downpours, the day was challenging both mentally and physically. A battle weary but contented group of sailors finished the day with seven or eight races each under their belt, with OCSS at the top of the heap with six wins from eight races only narrowly ahead of the Wind Warriors and RN&CYC who were tied at the end of the day. A couple of hard-earned beers on the dock saw plentiful discussions of moves that went awry, and races won and lost before heading home to recover for the next day of racing.

Sunday could not have differed more, with the sun shining and a more comfortable 12-14 knots of wind shifting wildly left and right giving the sailors a different challenge. Strong starts were important but maintaining control of opponents was paramount as a small amount of leverage was all it could take to flip a race on it's head. Despite the tricky conditions, OCSS showed true skill throughout the day fighting their way in to the lead from a trailing position on more than one occasion, and made it almost to the end of the day undefeated, losing only their final race with the RN&CYC.

The Scottish team found an extra gear for the second day and despite an early loss to OCSS at the start of the day, they won every other race to keep it tight at the top. Indeed, it was the very last race of the day that was the must win for OCSS, a loss against the Wind Warriors would have forced a playoff with the RN&CYC, and with just two legs remaining, it was not looking promising. Somehow on the bottom reach, with all sorts of action and moves, OCSS had dug themselves out of trouble and squeezed into the lead winning the overall title by just one point ahead of the RN&CYC.

With no time left to complete another round, the sailors all voted for a quick 4v4 team race, just for fun and to revel in the chaos.

After a quick pack up to allow the Scots to travel home, the teams gathered for prize-giving in the club. The OCSS team of Jemima Lawson, Catherine Brooke, Krystal Law, Zoe Nieveen and Fiona Hampshire, Beck Cross, Maddie Anderson and Emma Baker were awarded the Lochan Cup to mark their title as UK Women's Keelboat Team Racing Champions 2024.

After the racing, and despite some minor grumblings over too much time racing and not enough time to drink tea, second placed skipper, Nicole McPherson from the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club said "It was great to get in so many races across a broad range of conditions. We enjoyed close racing against all the other teams, had fun with kites up in the wind on Saturday and are looking forward to coming back next year.

Congratulations to all of the teams who took part, we look forward to seeing you, and hopefully more, again next year!

Winning skipper from Oxford & Cambridge Sailing Society, Fiona Hampshire gave an insight in to their victory, "I've raced with and against Jemima a lot over the years and it was great to team up for this event. Not only when things were going our way, but we did have to dig ourselves out of trouble a few times as well. As ever, it was fantastic to rock up and race in the Sonars which are perfect for keelboat team racing."

Fiona's Co-skipper, Jemima Lawson, commented, "We had a great weekend - it was great to get the top female team racers together for some high quality (and super fun) racing. Winning by just one point shows how tight and close the racing was, we're just grateful to have taken that last win on the final beat of the final race. Thanks to the Royal Thames Yacht Club and all the volunteers for putting on an excellent event - we're looking forward to next year when hopefully we'll have even more teams to race against!

Planning is already under way for the next event which will take place in the Royal Thames Yacht Club's 250th anniversary year so promises to be an event not to miss.

Results at

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